Sunday, October 1, 2017

Free Book: The Alchemist's Kiss: A Magical Steampunk Adventure

The Alchemist's Kiss: A Magical Steampunk Adventure

by AR DeClerck

London, 1869

Alchemist and wizard Icarus Kane returns to London after a long stint in the Americas during their Civil War. With his best friend Archimedes Merriweather, and his protege Cora Mae Jenkins, Icarus hopes to settle down in peace as the Warden and protector of London. 

A dark mage appears in London at the same time an uprising in the non-magical community is gaining steam. Icarus and his friends will have to band together to destroy the threat to their coveted peace. Icarus will have to face his inner darkness, and his past, if he hopes to save the city, and the people, he loves.

A Special Look Inside 

Icarus stepped into the rain and tasted the blood on the air. His father was playing a very dangerous game indeed. The rain was sharp, slicing at him as he clutched the talisman tightly in his ungloved palm. He looked over his shoulder once, and could see the shadow of Cora staring out from the wheelhouse at him. The ship lurched hard to the right and he stumbled, cursing. He made his way to the bow, climbing up to the very edge as he had when he'd released Machiavelli's feather to the wind. He could still see it ahead of them, spinning wildly as it continued on its magical quest to show them to Croft. His duster was caught in the gale, blowing out from his body and letting him become soaked to the bone in seconds. Had he mentioned that he hated rain, he wondered. With The Hand tight in his fingers he lifted his arms and held them straight out from his body. He tipped forward as the wind tried to pull him into the cloudy abyss, but he managed to hold himself up with sheer will and upper body strength.
“Deffro i mi,” he said through teeth clenched in cold and pain. He felt the talisman grow hotter as he spoke to it in it's native tongue, “Rhannwch eich pwr gyda mi.”  Awaken unto me. Share your power with me.
The Hand and his rune were on fire, but he bit his lip to hold back a cry of pain and held it tighter. The ancient magic of the celtic talisman mingled with his own, and the aether around him came alive. Like fireflies in the summer night the air around him lit with static electricity and the aether glowed. A cloud of golden aether particles swirled all around him. He managed a smile as the world around him darkened and narrowed.
“Not now.” he gritted out, keeping his consciousness with his own stubborn refusal to go down.
Glanhau.” he begged the aether. It could read the hearts and minds of a man; he knew it as clearly as he knew his own strength was nearly gone. It was not an inanimate source of magical power, but a sentient thinking thing. Many thinking particles that hated the stench of the blood magic as much as he did. Cleanse, he asked it.
Once he'd told Cora that The Hand was a tool of dark magic, but as he held it he felt what she must have felt in the train car with his father. The Hand was loyal to Cora. It wasn't emotion he felt from the talisman's magic, but he knew it like he knew his name. The Hand wanted Cora. Would do this thing for him because Cora loved him.
Icarus nearly lost his balance as the thought blasted through his mind. Cora loved him. He'd hoped she cared for him, at the same time feared she might. He'd tried to shake off the responsibility that came with love, but here it was as clear as glass. Cora loved him. The Hand knew it. Now Icarus knew it too. He could no longer pretend that Cora's infatuation would end someday when the right man came along. He was the right man. Cora's man. All that remained was to say the words.
The aether spread out around him, the glow visible for a far as he could see across the great expanse of sky before him. Everywhere it moved it sizzled against the aether tained with his father's dark magic. They collided and the dark aether was burned out by the light of his own. The magic was draining him quickly, and his sudden infusion of spirit at the knowledge of Cora's love had only bolstered him for a moment. His arms were leaden as the last of his father's magic was eradicated and the storm began to clear. He smelled smoke, but knew the ship was no longer in danger of falling from the sky. The aether was surrounding it, keeping them in the air.
His head was heavy with a fog of its own as he felt the last of his strength give way. He moved his arm, letting The Hand fall to the deck behind him. As the tunnels of darkness that he dreaded closed in around him he pitched headlong off the ship and fell toward the city he loved.

In the moment that the storm was burned off by the aether I saw Icarus drop The Hand. I pulled open the wheelhouse door with the Captain quick on my heels. I must have screamed when Icarus went over the edge, because the Captain and all his men stopped to stare at the bow of the ship where their savior had only moments before been standing.
I thought I might be frozen in fear or grief, but I dashed forward and grabbed my talisman from the deck. I could feel my heart racing as I looked over the edge. Icarus was holding on, but dangling limply as the wind buffeted him about like a child's toy. I got to my knees, tucking The Hand into my bodice,  and reached for him. I grabbed hold and he raised his head. He was pale and I knew only moments from unconsciousness.
“Grab my other hand, Icarus.”
“I cannot.” His voice was a whisper, raw and agonizingly rough. He was shaking, every muscle quaking with the effort it took to hold himself to the ship. My arms screamed in pain as I tried to hold him up. The Captain was across the way, tending to a fire that had broken out on the deck.
“Icarus, please.” I begged, pulling with all my strength. I could not hold him and concentrate enough to chant a spell to help me with his weight. “Take my hand.”
“I am not gloved, Cora. I won't.”
I cursed as he quaked hard again, nearly loosing his hand from mine. My palms were sweaty and he slipped away from me a little more. “I am willing to risk it, Icarus! You're going to fall. Take my hand. Please.”
He smiled at me and I felt a sob escape. I'd seen that smile before. Sad and full of soft apologies that Icarus Kane never needed to make. I clutched at him as he opened his hand and slipped away from me. He fell, and all I  saw was a speck of herringbone tumbling end over end toward the ground below.
“Adept Jenkins,” the Captain knelt beside me, his face pale. He gulped, his large adam's apple bobbing as he stared wide eyed at Icarus falling. “I cannot bring the ship down fast enough to catch him.”
I untied my hat and handed it to the captain. It looked ridiculous in his large-knuckled hands, but I clutched The Hand tightly and stood at the bow.
“Continue to follow the feather, “ I said with proper severity, despite the fear bubbling in my gut, “and Icarus and I will be along shortly.”
“Adept, what are you doing?” the Captain grabbed my arm as I leaned over the edge of the decking. I shrugged him off and something in the jut of my jaw or the fire of my eyes must have convinced him that I was not to be trifled with in that moment.  He pulled his hand back and shook his head, “This is madness.”
I took hold of my skirts and held them tightly. The Hand burned in my palm and I wondered if my clothing could catch fire from the heat. The Captain was positively aghast as I raised my dress above my ankles and tensed.
“Good luck, Captain Levisque. Until we meet again.” Then I bent my knees and leaped from the side of the ship.


This is one of my favorite scenes from The Alchemist's Kiss. There's so much to love about Icarus Kane, and yet he cannot love himself the way we do. Cora Mae is the one person in the world who might be able to save Icarus from the oncoming storm, and from himself. She's strong, independent and deeply in love. Don't forget that Archimedes has his own love story in the next book The Enchanter's Embrace!

My Icarus

I hope you enjoy The Alchemist's Kiss as much as I do. Please take a free copy this week with my compliments. If you love the book, please leave a review!

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